This recent iteration of the mismatched buddy/buddy pic shows just how sturdy the old forms can be with first-rate execution. While the film is often LOL funny, Daniel Auteuil brings a surprising (and most effective) tinge of melancholy to his antiques dealer, a man with a full schedule of acquaintances, but neither the instinct nor inclination for pursuing friendship. Only a silly bet with his business partner leads him to an unlikely tutelage in friendship after two chance meetings with cabdriver Dany Boon. The irony is that Boon’s over-enthusiasm is as much a sociable turnoff as Autueil’s froid. The beautifully balanced script (by Oliver Dazat, Jérôme Tonnere & Patrice Leconte) manages to reveal Dickensian overtones within this set-up (there’s a lot of Scrooge in Autueil’s personal journey & redemption) and if Leconte as director forces now & then (Blvd comedies thrive on a more non-interventionist technique) he also knows how to back off. After SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, the gameshow finale may look like a bit of a steal, but this film came out two years earlier.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Why hasn’t Hollywood remade this? Dozens of actors come to mind for the leads. Perhaps a protagonist with hundreds of acquaintances, but no actual friends cuts a bit close for all those powerful L.A. producers.